Posts by Dr. Janice Presser

Dr. Janice Presser, CEO of The Gabriel Institute, is a behavioral scientist and the architect of Teamability® – a completely new technology that measures how people will perform in teams. Dr. Presser has been engaged in the research and development of talent science for over 25 years. A recognized thought leader in qualitative assessment and human infrastructure management methods, she is the author of six books, including the new @DrJanice: Thoughts and Tweets on Leadership, Teamwork & Teamability®. Her forthcoming book, A Person is a ‘Who’, Not a ‘What’: Teamability and the Future of Work, will explore the theoretical and physical foundations of teaming, and the profound impact of teaming metrics on the structure, development, and leadership of teams.

Leaders: 5 New Rules for Interviewing

With the end of a difficult economic year approaching and the beginning of a new decade just around that same corner, many people will be getting back into the hunt for a new job or a new career soon. With unemployment up to historical highs, and the number of people dissatisfied with their current job at 65%, employers can expect that new people will be coming to their doors in search of work in larger numbers than before.

Approximately 65% of employees admitted to passively or actively looking for a new job, compared to employers’ estimate of 37%. ~ survey

If you are one who hires people, or is involved in the interviewing process, there are some key things of which you need to be aware to help you succeed in the hiring process. The number of people who are currently available to you is enormous and you can really be selective in who you hire. This can be a good thing. It can also cause you to be overwhelmed. With the complex array of applicants available to you, interviewing people with tools and mindsets from yesteryear might not serve you this time around. You have the opportunity to build (or rebuild) healthy and vibrant teams that are better equipped for the future. You just need to know how to do it.

For instance, there are individuals who might not typically fit your “profile for perfection” for a particular position, but who might actually end up being perfect for a job with you because they bring a fresh approach to the job or the working environment. By getting the right person for the team, in addition to the right person for the job, the whole group can excel.

Getting it Right

To make sure that you are properly geared for this next wave of interviews, take a quick moment and see The 5 New Rules for Interviewing to help you get the best possible candidate for your open position.

1) Shut Up and Listen

Every moment you speak is a moment your interviewee is silent. Unless you are interviewing someone who will be working for you as a mime, you aren’t learning anything while you’re talking. Trust that your listening skills will serve you well and let them speak. You will be glad that you did.

2) Ask SPIN Questions

Help your interviewee learn more about the position and company–while you’re learning more about them–by asking them value-centric questions. Try using what sales guru Neil Rackham, author of SPIN Selling and many other books on business communication, calls ‘Implication’ and ‘Need-payoff’ questions.

  • “What if you got this position and could do anything within reason to make it a success. What might you do”
  • “Here’s a recurring problem (describe it); How many ways might this negatively impact our business?”
  • “How would you handle an unexpected surge in new business opportunities?”

This gives the candidate an opportunity to ‘dig in’ and actually sell themselves on the job opportunity, while giving you a view into their thinking and problem-solving processes and abilities.

3) Stick to a Plan

Remember that an interview is a form of assessment. If every interview follows a different path, they will not result in accurate or reasonable comparisons between candidates. Not only do you need to ask the same questions of each interviewee, you need to interpret their answers in the same way. Furthermore, if you don’t isolate the key message points and stay focused on them, it is all the more likely that the candidate’s physical characteristics, gender, race, nationality, style of dress, etc. will creep into the assessment–and before you know it you will be adrift in unconscious biases that can lead to future trouble.

4) Pick a Team Player

Consider using an assessment that is designed to measure teaming characteristics. Team dynamics are crucially important on individual contributors. Historically, hiring has always been focused primarily on the characteristics of the candidates. Ironically, how well they will perform on the team doesn’t come to the fore until after the hire–and isn’t recognized as a failing until after the ‘bad hire’ has done plenty of damage. You can’t really ask people how they ‘team’ and expect a reliable answer, so you need a way to predict how they will behave.

5) Take the High Road

Even when you’re having a tough day, remember that you are making decisions of critical importance to your organization. You have direct influence on building and maintaining a human infrastructure that will determine the success or failure of the entire organization. Take a deep breath, ask for a second opinion if you’re unsure, and always keep learning.

By following these 5 rules, you will help ensure that you are building a more robust future of everyone involved.

What are you doing right that has proved you proficient in interviewing candidates? What are you presently doing wrong with your interviewing processes? How do you think that these are impacting your team’s performance? What can you add to the discussion to help others get the best people for their positions out of effective interviewing techniques? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Dr. Janice Presser is CEO of
The Gabriel Institute
She can be reached at

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The Perfectly Imperfect Leader

Enough of this myth that leaders have to be super-human people who can do it all!  In protest! I hereby present the Leadership Lacks Test. Just count the ones you agree with.  No scales, just a simple yes or no.

  1. I can fix almost anything and make it work if I try hard enough.
  2. I am usually friendly with people, so most of them like me.
  3. I can remember how to do things that I learned a long time ago.
  4. Give me your wish list and I’ll find at least one or two items on it that I can help you with.
  5. I can turn almost any bad situation around if I am at least given a chance..

How did you score?  I’m proud to say I got a big fat zero. If you’re focused too much on fixing things, you’re not focused on the big broad spectrum of possibilities. If you focus too much on people liking you, you may do things that inadvertently give up your power. If you’re accessing the past this well, you may miss tuning in on the future. If you go off in search of treasure too often, you won’t be there when it comes to you.

And if you’re really good at turning bad situations around, you might not walk away from one when you should.

Most importantly, if you’re doing all these jobs, there’s no room for other people on your team to do them. So revel in your lacks, love yourself for what you are not, and just enjoy being a perfectly imperfect leader!

So, how are you doing at assessing your personal strengths and weaknesses in your role as a leader? Are you finding yourself trying to be super-human? Do you allow yourself to “fail” or be less than perfect at things? Do you admit to yourself and to your team that you are not always good at fixing everything, or so you sometimes hold up a facade instead? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences!

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Dr. Janice Presser is CEO of
The Gabriel Institute
She can be reached at


Predicting Excellence

Research Instruments

It’s the worst kept secret in the business world that what you know is worth only about 25% as a predictor of whether or not you will succeed.

The rest is based on fit. Meaning, how you fit with your boss, your team, your customers, and your organization’s culture. If you’ve ever been fired because the boss just didn’t appreciate you, or you’ve left a job because of a boss you just could not stand to work for one more moment, or because you just knew there were options that would be so much more fulfilling, then you probably know what I’m talking about.

So what does all this mean for business leadership?

In today’s economy, the demand to do more with less affects everything you do to bring value to your company.

The first challenge in a downturn is to confront this simple truth: people who were ‘the right people’ during good times may not be right during bad times. Resolving this conundrum is a way to add real value.  Start with some quantifiable data.

Find answers to these questions:

  • Has there been an increase in people problems?
  • Are you hearing from more managers that their teams seem less motivated?
  • Are your standard productivity measures off target, your accident counts rising, your undesired terminations soaring?

Then do some qualitative research. Answer these questions:

  • Do your people actually behave in the workplace as expected?
  • Are they meeting their goals?
  • Are they doing this in a way that helps other people make their goals too?
  • Do you see measurable effects of synergy between people, or are they cancelling out each other’s efforts?

Finally, can you link their behavior to the organization’s bottom line?  If they are the right fit in all (or most) ways – with their boss, their team mates, the organizational culture you want – they are likely to be more globally productive and you should be able to track this in the output of the work teams, no matter how that output is measured.

Here are some proven ways to create and predict excellence:

  • First, get a baseline measurement of the overall coherence of your organization.  Start with your own team and work your way through the others.  Check around for quality instruments to help you.
  • Using Role-Based Assessment predictors, examine each team for diversity of style. Wherever you find too much homogeneity, reconsider your recruiting and other talent management policies.  It may seem easier and better to work with people who think like you, but it also limits your potential for excellence.
  • When you find people who have a burning desire for better role-fit, find a way to make it happen—with minimal risk to the organization but with maximum stretch room and support.  If you don’t have a formal mentoring program, start one.
  • Get all your managers on board by starting with them. Show them the metrics, and the predictors. Then help them engage with each other to build a culture that will support the excellence you are seeking.
  • Finally, don’t forget to validate the relationship between your actions and the positive outcomes with appropriate metrics.  You’ll be increasing your value to your own organization as well as proving that you are excellent!

What steps can you take to closely examine the efficacy of your individual team players? How can you accurately assess whether they are right-fitted for the best overall outcomes? What can you do to smooth things out to reduce friction and improve efficiencies with the people you lead? I would love to hear your thoughts! 

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Dr. Janice Presser is CEO of 
The Gabriel Institute
She can be reached at

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On Leadership and Candles


How are you shining the light for the next generation of leaders?

An MBA student entrepreneur posted a comment on my blog today with a great question:

“Where does an entrepreneur go for mentoring or advice when there’s no one able to teach you (at least locally) what you want to learn?”

Two lessons here for servant leaders:

First, we need to stop letting our young ones think that all the answers already exist, whether or not we have the answers available for them. We do a disservice to our next generation by giving them spoon-fed answers and not letting them learn on their own or learn from their mistakes. When we provide them too much, they miss out on learning from authentic experience and we rob them of one of life’s most precious teaching elements.

Additionally, we take from them the rewarding challenge of having to embark on the adventure of having to search both internally and externally for solutions that take creative energies to produce. Robbing our next generation of true learning through imaginative problem-solving hurts them and deprives future generations of rich rewards of authentic experiential learning.

In fact, if we let them figure some things out for themselves, they come to find that there are questions that haven’t yet been asked, and that there are answers that may not yet exist.

Sparking this “wonderment equation” within them is a massive gift that we can give those with whom we are entrusted to steward. Additionally, we need to instruct them how to pass this on to their subsequent followers and keep the fire burning.

Secondly, we need to ask the younger ones what they want to learn from life, or from a situation, and also what they want to do once we work with them to clear the path for them to get where they want to go.  Our job is to hold the candles that light their way and then to hand those candles over to them so they can go farther than we are able to. And by example, we will be teaching them how to pass the candles on to their proteges.

Often, there is more to be learned from the questions than from the answers.

How are you going about creating questions that stimulate creative problem-solving? How are you engaging in behaviors that encourage authentic experiential learning? How are you holding the candle in a way that creates demonstrative learning?

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Dr. Janice Presser is CEO of The Gabriel Institute
She can be reached at